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Agencies have received new ways to protect their data on contractor or non-federal systems. The National Institute of Standards and Technology issued new guidance detailing 14 categories of security controls that agencies should consider requiring of contractors based on the risk of losing the data. Special Publication 800-171, revision 1 can also help contractors better protect sensitive federal data on their systems. Vendors can use a system security plan to describe to agency customers how the specified security requirements are met or how they plan to meet specific controls.
The Defense Department is warning industry to be aware of falsehoods from companies promising new cyber certifications. Vendors are anxiously waiting for the first set third-party assessors under the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification or CMMC program. But Pentagon officials say any company that claims they can get you certified today is lying. DoD says the CMMC training materials should be ready by March and the first set of third party assessors should be trained by early summer. In the meantime, contractors can hire experts to assess their current state against the CMMC requirements, but those companies must be certified against the cyber standards by another organization. (Federal News Network)
A new strategy from the Department of Health and Human Services is looking to reduce the regulatory burden on doctors as they shift towards using electronic health records. The report was required under the 21st Century Cures Act. It’s main goals are reducing the amount of time required to record information in EHR’s and the amount of regulations for their use. (Department of Health and Human Services)
The Government Accountability Office’s emerging technology office wants feedback from industry on the cloud computing and data analytics tools it will need to meet its mission. The Innovation Lab will host an industry day March 18 to highlight its portfolio of projects so far, and outline its operational needs to vendors. GAO stood up the Innovation Lab in 2019 to help the watchdog agency find trends in a growing volume of federal data.
The IRS has named a senior adviser to lead a new office aimed at cracking down on tax schemes. Promoter Investigations Coordinator Brendan O’Dell will work with the IRS’s criminal investigations team, general counsel and other offices, to investigate companies that promote deceptive services to reduce what taxpayers owe to the agency. O’Dell will hold the job on a temporary basis until IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig names a permanent pick. (Internal Revenue Service)
Federal contractors like what they see with the low security clearance backlog, but they’re still waiting for bigger solutions to improve the end-to-end suitability, credentialing and security clearance system. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency has received praise for bringing the backlog close to a steady state of 200,000. They’re also noting shorter wait times for some kinds of investigations. But the adjudication process still takes too long. And some adjudication agencies are doing better than others. (Federal News Network)
New ethical principles from the Defense Department look to keep its use of artificial intelligence in check. Some of the guidelines include ensuring there are enough levels of judgement and care in the deployment of AI. DoD also wants to make sure it designs and engineers AI to its intended functions so it doesn’t demonstrate unintended behavior. DoD says the principles and how they are implemented will continue to evolve. (Federal News Network)
A Coast Guard task force has reported progress in improving the lives of women. The year-old personnel readiness task force has been focusing on recommendations from the RAND Corporation for retaining women coasties. The task force says it’s developed a body composition pilot program to more accurately assess women’s physiques. A new parent resources program enhances services for pregnant women and those who recently delivered, including reimbursing them for the cost of shipping breast milk. The Coast Guard has also increased use of reservists to fill in for regular members on parental leave.
The nation’s top Marine wants to make the Corps more woman-friendly. In a series of tweets, Marine Corps Commandant General David Berger outlined a handful of policy changes he thinks need immediate action such as studying if year-long maternity leave is possible and extending parental leave to adoptive parents and same-sex couples. Berger also wants to create a program that will bring in women from the reserves for previously gender-restricted occupations in the Marines. The military as a whole is struggling to keep mid-career women in the force. (Federal News Network)
The Air Force is bringing more family considerations into which parts of the country it will station airmen in. Starting this spring, the Air Force says it will look at how well local school districts serve military students when it makes its basing decisions. Another factor will how friendly state laws are to letting military spouses transfer their professional licenses and certifications from other states. Air Force officials say those considerations are “vital,” because they play a big part in airmen’s decisions to stay in uniform and relocate their families every two to three years. (Air Force)
It only takes the Army 80 days now to hire a new member of its civilian workforce. While that’s still much higher than the private sector average, it’s down from a recent high of 133 days. Officials say they pulled off the reduction, in part, by making more use of the direct hiring authorities Congress has already given federal agencies.
BlackRock once again is the choice to manage all but two major Thrift Savings Plan funds. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board chose the BlackRock Institutional Trust Company to manage the C, F, S and I funds. The TSP will also choose a second manager to handle assets for all four funds. Both companies will manage the TSP funds for at least two years, with four additional two-year options. BlackRock last won a similar TSP contract back in 2015. (Federal News Network)